Clothes aren’t just items to keep you warm or cool – they also indicate status, showcase defiance, and even alleviate anxieties.
For tennis legend Billie Jean King, clothes allow female tennis players to express their individuality through colors and prints – a right she and the embryonic Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) fought for in the 1970s when white was ubiquitous as the sport’s color.
Wimbledon still employs this rigid all-white dress code – first implemented to camouflage sweat stains. These days it also helps the SW19 grand slam retain a sense of uniqueness in relation to the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open, but arguably it also curtails players’ individuality.
More pressingly, for players menstruating it creates anxieties as to whether blood is visible on white clothes.
“My generation, we always worried because we wore all white all the time,” King tells CNN’s Amanda Davies. “And it’s what you wear underneath that’s important for your menstrual period.
“And we’re always checking whether we’re showing. You get tense about it because the first thing we are is entertainers and you want whatever you wear to look immaculate, look great. We’re entertainers. We’re bringing it to the people.”
Following the publication of King’s comments, reports in the British media appeared, suggesting that Wimbledon would relax its all-white underwear rules for female tennis players.
In response to the reports, the All-England Tennis Club (AELTC) released a statement to CNN on Tuesday saying: “Prioritising women’s health and supporting players based on their individual needs is very important to us, and we are in discussions with the WTA, with manufacturers and with the medical teams about the ways in which we can do that.”
Tournament organizers had been under pressure to relax its strict dress code since Wimbledon this year when campaigners gathered at